Gangs Review Compendium

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There's no hiding from the thrashing of the heavily distorted guitars, the pounding of the drums and the convoying bass lines, mostly because there's no one person for them to hide behind. But why would you want the band to shy away from this? It's exactly what the band do, and they do it pretty damn well. - 8/10   by Joe Wild



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One of the problems with releasing a debut album with the sheer awesome volatility of And So I Watch You From Afar’s first is that eventually you have to follow it up with something befitting the original. Tired phrases like ‘difficult second album’ and ‘I prefer the early stuff’ are thrown around haphazardly in music circles, and sometimes they do apply, but not in the case of Gangs because ASIWYFA have never been a band to trade in the pastiche. In fact, the only cliché that comes to mind when listening contains the words ‘year’ and ‘possible album of the’, followed by several exclamation marks. - By John Balfe

 

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And So I Watch You From Afar are at it again, this time with their latest album, Gangs. What draws many people to post-rock is the calm, soothing soundscapes that 3 guys and a delay pedal can produce, but ASIWYFA snubs it’s nose at that Sigur Rós stereotype and proceeds to shred it up in a way that would make an 80′s metal-head drool. Purely original, purely energy, The Belfast Boys know how to breathe life into a sometimes stagnant genre and give it the energy that it was lacking for so very long. - 4.5/5
 

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The industrial, metallic sound that gives Gangs much of its bark doesn't so much invite itself into your head as force its way inside. As was the case with their first record, there are more than enough guitar and drum hooks here to make up for the absence of vocals; indeed, you get the sense that vocals would only serve as a distraction, diluting the album’s brilliantly-crafted chaos. - 8/10 by Tom Hocking

 

For a band that works as hard as they do, and keep in touch with their fan base as much as time allows them, you had to say that the pendulum has been gravitating in their favor even before a second of new material was heard…so the “sophomore slump” was not necessarily something any of their fans had in mind; and rightly so because Gangs is as great as it is massive. - 8.6/10 by PeeDster

 

Something that some of these newer, face-melter type bands are lacking might be the completeness of what Gangs brings to you after listening through the entire thing. There is more of a story to be told through this album than any other math-rock or instrumental album I’ve heard this year, including Explosions in the Sky’s Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, which is a sort of milestone to be noted in my book.

 

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There's no getting away from the distortion, the overclocked thrumming strings gushing from the amplifier speakers; but why would you want to? It's what ASIWYFA do best: hyperactive flurries of notes, squealing crescendos, riffs upon riffs with some modulated into glitchy oblivion. The rhythm section anchors it all without dragging proceedings into tedium. The jaunty melodies and jagged incisors savaging them into bite-size shapes remain engaging for the full 45 minutes, proving that the loud and voiceless do not have to sound ineloquent. - by Brad Barrett

 

So it’s another technically accomplished instrumental album, so what? The 'so what' is that, contrary to belief, it is still possible to advance on templates like this, those built on simple foundations of guitar, bass and drums, and And So I Watch You From Afar have proved this brilliantly. The 'so what' is that despite their tendency of swapping about time-signatures and restlessness during passages, you’re never left in doubt of the singular and collective direction they’re going in, the 'so what' is, fuck, just the pure joy coming out of this record, each hook made for manic bounding up and down to, tongue wagging, big goofy grin on face. This is the sound of a gang who’ve never been tighter, and a postcard of their journey that couldn’t have captured them at a higher peak. - 9/10 by Simon Jay Catling

 

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Partial as they are to the odd heads-down riff-a-thon, ASIWYFA manage to sidestep the depressingly over-used quiet / loud dynamic with aplomb, constantly keeping the listener on their toes by shifting from the euphoric to the intricate without warning, forever ensuring that not one element overstays its welcome. By turns an utterly immersive tour de force and a series of thrills as transient as the breeze, ‘Gangs’ triumphs on every possible level. - 9/10 by Pete Withers


 

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Over the course of its 44 minutes, Gangs delivers an unrelenting and celebratory riff fest. There's a dash of Fang Island here, a touch of Mogwai there, and a smidge of whatever math- or post-rock group fits any given passage. But when it's all said and done, ASIWYFA just sounds like itself — a band having a grand ol' time. - by Scott Morrow


 

Belfast trio And So I Watch You From Afar’s post-rock deserves respect from fans of uncompromising and intellectually challenging music. But it may also grab the ears of a few listeners who had previously clung to the verse-chorus-verse shallows, in particular because it doesn’t cling to the expected tropes of its own micro-genre. - by Beverly Bryan


 

The opening track, “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION,” is a good indication of the band’s stylistic preferences on the whole. Geometric riffs steadily mutate with the aid of fiery drumming and tactfully layered guitars, and loud, cathartic climaxes would make great sing-songy pub anthems. That is – if there were any words to sing. - by Nick Hugon


 

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In a word: spectacular. - by Roz Smith, November 24, 2011


 

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Indie, metal, electronic, dub and anything with a “post” prefix comes to mind, but it’s best not to get bogged down in all that blogger nonsense. Circuitous riffing, bombastic rhythms and the occasional choral detour coalesce into one rockin’ slab of cerebral aggression. Don’t misunderstand me, this ain’t sludge and it never crawls. Hyperfast on its feet, incorporating erratic blends of African percussion and Asian ambiance, constantly flitting between massive and more massive, never sacrificing melody or texture, it’s a document of belligerent beauty from one of this era’s pre-eminent instrumental trios. - by Dylan Chadwick


 

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But what sets this band apart is its absolutely genuine approach to all aspects of its work, including the musically indirect, and its willingness to step out of traditional post rock forms. From composition, technical detail and constant personal contact with its fan base, there is an acute honesty in what they do that is demonstrable in every note, every beat on both Gangs and their other releases. Gangs for its part puts forward a more cohesive blueprint where every riff, every melody fits together as a whole. - by James Stocker


 

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The riffs are appropriately intense, but they’re always properly restrained. The intense riffing on “...Samara to Belfast,” the second part of the two-part “Homes” fits in organically with the less heavy portions earlier in the song instead of sledgehammering the song into submission with its heaviness. This allows the band to better demonstrate their musical prowess, which is never in doubt from the album’s opening guitar bursts. Gangs is the sound of a band that can be heavy without even trying. - by Brice Ezell

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Just as the album starts with a musical cry of “All for one…”, you can sense the beers being opened and bottles clinked as the 45 minute masterpiece of instrumental rock draws its last breaths. To tell you the truth, ignore what I said earlier. This is still almost a nine out of ten a year on. Buy it. Now! - 8.5/10 by Gilbert Potts

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